- Posted by: Joyce Watson MS
- Categories: Feature, Media
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At the Senedd on Wednesday I backed Deputy Minister for Climate Lee Waters. The Welsh Conservatives brought forward a vote of No Confidence in the transport minister, off the back of the new 20mph law. The Welsh Government has done exactly what it said it would do it its manifesto: “Make 20mph the default speed limit in residential areas”. Meanwhile, the Tories have U-turned on a swathe of climate change commitments. Who should voters have confidence in – ministers that keep promises or those that break them?
Not everyone is in favour of the speed change. But many people, especially those living on and around restricted roads, are delighted. I agree – it will make our towns and villages safer, more pleasant places. It’s not appropriate everywhere, of course, and local authorities are responsible for these decisions. As with any big change, there are costs and benefits. Driving at 20mph can feel slow. But the new limit will save up to 100 lives and 20,000 casualties over the next decade. At the end of the day, those are the costs and benefits that matter.
The Tory backtrack on key net zero policies is tawdry politics at its worst. Just like Boris Johnson, Rishi Sunak wants to have his cake and eat it. The scale of the climate threat demands serious leadership and tough decisions, like the Welsh Government’s policy on road building and now 20mph. Instead, a desperate UK Government is pandering to the right – undermining confidence and economic investment in our country. As always, it will hit the poorest hardest. For example, scrapping proposals to force private landlords to improve the insulation and energy efficiency of their rental properties will cost renters at least £1bn more a year in heating bills and wasted energy. The property sector is responsible for around 20% of donations to the Conservative Party.
Another area where the Wesh Labour Government has shown serious leadership is on RAAC, the lightweight concrete that has been discovered to be beyond its lifespan in many buildings. The health minister, my Labour Mid and West Wales colleague Eluned Mogan, has allocated nearly £13 million to address high-risk planks at Withybush Hospital. Speaking in the Senedd, I praised staff for their efforts to support patients and services, helping to relocated people to Pembroke Dock hospital and elsewhere. As they have done time and again in recent years, our NHS workers stepped up.
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